Regardless of your company’s size, character or the industry it belongs to, no brand is immune to enduring a business crisis. The findings of an ODM Group study indicated that 59 percent of business decision makers have experienced a crisis in either their current or previous company. And 70 percent of those companies go out of business within one year of that crisis.
However, if and when one strikes, it does not mean the business is doomed to sink. With the right response, a brand can withstand the troubled waters and come out sailing smoother than before. Rescue your brand using these three crisis communication tips:
- Respond quickly.
- Answer honestly.
- Be accountable.
The longer it takes for you to respond to a critical situation, the more time rumors have to manifest and the more frustrated customers will become as they are left in the dark — so respond as soon as possible. Do make sure, however, all information you are providing is truthful and accurate as you don’t want a hasty reaction to backfire later. If you don’t have all of the answers yet, address that there is a problem and that you’re working hard to get to the bottom of it. Typically, social media channels are the fastest way to reach your audience. The app Buffer had the misfortune of a security breach that resulted in thousands of accounts posting spam messages on Facebook and Twitter. Buffer immediately began posting on social media platforms that the app had been compromised, also mentioning that all scheduled posts would be placed on-hold until they could investigate further and find a solution. Buffer even published a blog post and updated it every time progress was made on the hacking dilemma until, 10 updates later, it was eventually resolved. Even though this mishap inconvenienced their followers, nearly all of the Twitter feedback was positive and encouraging, thanking the app for its quick response and constant communication.
While it can be tempting to go into hiding by refusing to answer the phone and deleting posts of concerned or angry users on social media, avoidance will only exacerbate the issue. Show your customers you care, you’re trustworthy and you value them like family by providing transparent, honest answers. Additionally, having a crisis communication team in place before one ever occurs will ensure that you have enough staff to reply to an influx of emails, calls and social media posts when needed.
Regardless of who or what caused the crisis to occur, the leader of the organization should always assume responsibility. Whether it’s through a press release, company video or email, produce a statement owning the error, sincerely apologize and explain what further actions will be taken to remedy the situation. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver salvaged the association’s reputation after the L.A. Clippers owner was recorded making racist comments that lead to a public outrage. Silver apologized on behalf of the organization, fined the owner several million dollars and banned him from basketball, stating that the league stands for diversity and inclusiveness. His reaction earned respect not only from within the league but also from society as a whole.
As business magnate Warren Buffett explained, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” So when faced with trouble, take a deep breath and put these crisis communication tips to good use.
Written by Phillip Thune